Monday, August 25, 2014

US 1.5 - In the End, It's Maria

Well, it's official... on Monday the U.S. Open night session season became a living, breathing entity:

And then one Hordette named Maria beat up on another.

When the draw revealed that Maria Sharapova and Maria Kirilenko would be meeting in the 1st Round, the possibility for an upset was apparent. It'd happened before in the 1st Round of a slam, at the Australian Open in 2010. But Kirilenko missed a great deal of time with a knee injury last year and at the start of '14. She came to New York not having played since Wimbledon or the end of her engagement to hockey star Alex Ovechkin. She'd gone back to Moscow in recent weeks, so no one really knew what form she'd be in when she took the court. Meanwhile, Sharapova hadn't looked particularly great on the hard courts of North America the last few weeks, even losing a three-setter -- that hardly EVER happens -- to Ana Ivanovic in Cincinnati, and was making her first appearance at the U.S. Open in two years, having missed last year's tournament with a shoulder injury.

For a bit, the Maria on top in the opening Ashe Court night match at this slam was named Kirilenko, as she played good defense and basically allowed Sharapova to put herself into bad positions. Sharapova's double-fault and back-to-back errors gave Kirilenko a break lead at 3-2. A game later, Kirilenko backed up the break with a slice backhand, forehand winner combo to take a 4-2 lead.

But it didn't take long for things to swing the other way. After a few shaky shots from Kirilenkko in game #7, Sharapova could smell the blood in the water. She held, then got a quick break of serve to knot things at 4-4.

She never looked back.

Sharapova won the final four games of the 1st to take the set 6-4, then continued to dominate in the 2nd. By the time Kirilenko called for a trainer and had her ankle heavily taped, it was already 3-0 in Sharapova's favor. She'd go on to run her game winning streak to ten games and take the match 6-4/6-0, with the final point coming via a Kirilenko double-fault. The victory extends Sharapova's career record in Ashe night matches to a WTA all-time best of 17-0. Only Pete Sampras' 20-0 record is better in Open night session history.

It's been eight years since Sharapova won the Open, and she's only had one QF-or-better result in New York since. A similar run is a long way from becoming a reality, but this was a very good start.

=NIGHT 1 NOTES= took a little longer than usual, but the first seed finally fell on Day 1. And it was #25 Garbine Muguruza, who lost 6-3/7-6(4) to 32-year old qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Thus, the Spaniard has now experienced quite a lot at the slams in 2014. After missing the last half of '13 with injury, Muguruza began '14 with her first tour title in Hobart and an accompanying Round of 16 run in Melbourne, where she upset Caroline Wozniacki. In Paris, she ONLY defeated Serena Williams and reached the QF. But with the highs come the lows, as the back-half of her slam year has consisted of two 1st Round losses as a seeded player, as she also was handed a quick exit by Coco Vandeweghe at Wimbledon, where Muguruza was the #28 seed.

Lucic-Baroni knows all about wild swings in careers and life. Remember, she was slam semifinalist all the way back in 1999, and has risen from the ashes in more ways than one can count over the last fifteen years.

...also in the late afternoon, Sloane Stephens looked like Future Sloane against Annika Beck, jumping to a 6-0/3-0 lead. Then Current Sloane stepped in for a bit and, serving at 4-2, she was broken and suddenly it was 4-3 and all sorts of "First Seed Out" thoughts were bouncing around the grounds. But then both sides met in the middle and Stephens won the final two games to take the match at 6-0/6-3.

Stay tuned.

...Sabine Lisicki very nearly became the third highly-ranked German to be forced to three sets on Day 1, but the inexperience of Canadian qualifier Francoise Abanda, making her slam MD debut, gave her a bit of a break. Serving for the 2nd set at 5-4, Abanda double-faulted and was soon broken. Lisicki took the momentum gathered there and swept the remaining games of the match to win 6-3/7-5.


the audible sigh SOMEONE made upon seeing Hannah Storm on the ESPN set for the U.S. Open. Can LZ Granderson be far behind now? Sigh.


during ESPN's night session opening, as the crew discussed the women's draw and Mike Tirico asked who were the contenders outside the big names like Serena, Pam Shriver was the first to chime in... with the name of Sloane Stephens. Really? (Shakes head.)

Oh, PammyPammyPammy.


Lisicki, a former slam finalist, and Abanda, a teenager in her slam match, wore the exact same blue Nike outfit during their match against each other.

...elsewhere in later matches, 32-year old qualifier Anastasia Rodionova upset Carmila Giorgi in their 1st Round match-up. It's the Aussie's first main draw slam win since winning a 1st Round match at Flushing Meadows two years ago, while the Italian reached the Round of 16 at last year's Open. Giorgi had fourteen double-faults in the match. She was a semifinalist last week in New Haven, which makes you wonder if this is bad karmic news for the other New Haven success stories: Petra Kvitova (W), Magdalena Rybarikova (RU) and Sam Stosur (SF).

Actually, it didn't take long for that long arm to come down on Rybarikova, too. The Slovak's run to the New Haven final saw her limping through her final match. Tonight she won the 2nd set against Caroline Wozniacki to force a 3rd, but was only able to go two games in the set before she was forced to retire.

Kvitova and Stosur play on Day 2. all, five qualifiers won 1st Round matches on Monday, including Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who knocked out Anna Schmiedlova to advance to a slam 2nd Round for the first time.

...and, finally, a big cheer for Madison Brengle. Her decade-long quest has finally become a success, as the 24-year old wild card got a win over Julia Glushko (who reached the 3rd Round in '13) on Monday. It's her first career slam MD victory... after ten years of trying, twenty-seven failed attempts to qualify for a slam (including at the last twenty-four), and four 1st Round defeats.

BrengleFly did good. Congrats.

2005 #28 Flavia Pennetta, ITA (lost to Schruff)
2006 #15 Anna-Lena Groenefeld, GER (lost to Rezai)
2007 #29 Samantha Stosur, AUS (lost to Cornet)
2008 #24 Shahar Peer, ISR (lost to Li)
2009 #25 Kaia Kanepi, EST (lost to Chang)
2010 #8 Li Na, CHN (lost to K.Bondarenko)
2011 #5 Petra Kvitova, CZE (lost to Dulgheru)
2012 #27 Anabel Medina-Garrigues, ESP (lost to Hradecka)
2013 #29 Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK (lost to Mayr-Achleitner)
2014 #25 Garbine Muguruza, ESP (lost to Lucic-Baroni)
AO: #7 Sara Errani, ITA (lost to Goerges)
RG: #25 Kaia Kanepi, EST (lost to Niculescu)
WI: #17 Samantha Stosur, AUS (lost to Wickmayer)
US: #25 Garbine Muguruza, ESP (lost to Lucic-Baroni)

TOP QUALIFIER: #32q Aleksandra Krunic/SRB
Co-TOP EARLY-ROUND (1r-2r): xx
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q3: Duan Yingying/CHN d. Irena Pavlovic/FRA 6-3/1-6/7-6(5) [Pavlovic up 5-1 3rd, held MP]
TOP EARLY-RD. MATCH (1r-2r): xx
FIRST WINNER: #4 Aga Radwanska/POL (def. S.Fichman/CAN)
FIRST SEED OUT: #25 Garbine Muguruza/ESP (lost to M.Lucic-Baroni/CRO)
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Day 1 wins: A.Kudryavtseva/RUS, M.Lucic-Baroni/CRO, An.Rodionova/AUS, A.Sasnovich/BLR, Sai.Zheng/CHN
LAST BANNERETTE STANDING: Day 1 wins: M.Brengle, S.Stephens, V.Williams
IT ("??"): xx
LADY OF THE EVENING: Nominee: M.Sharapova/RUS

All for Night 2. More tomorrow.


Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

And Sveta can't outrun the Kuznetsova Curse. Erakovic d. Kuznetsova 3-6/6-2/7-6(3). Sveta led 4-2 in the 3rd and served for the match at 5-4.

Hmmm, between Serena and Sveta...
"The Kuznetsova Curse" for Ms.Backspin '14?

Tue Aug 26, 01:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Galileo said...

I watched that match. I knew she was going to double fault. I even said please please just get it in. Very disappointing. Also, Halep looks pretty rusty. Luckily for her it's not like there's a former champion waiting in her section because then she'd be in trouble....

Tue Aug 26, 04:17:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Eric said...

MaSha wants ppl to pay for MTOs...I think they should also charge for bathroom breaks.

Tue Aug 26, 05:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

I think she's going to have a hard time living down that comment. It's WAY easy to use as a "weapon" against her.

Tue Aug 26, 06:39:00 PM EDT  

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